Not only are these pretzels a great snack, but your kitchen will also smell heavenly while they're baking!
1-1/4 cups warm water
1 package (1 scant tablespoon) dry active yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
3-1/2 to 4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for glaze
coarse salt for topping
Place 1/4 cup water in a large bowl and sprinkle with yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let yeast proof until bubbly, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add remaining cup water, 3-1/2 cups of the flour, salt, and oil; stir to combine well. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as needed to prevent sticking. Lightly grease 2 heavy baking sheets with shortening. Divide dough into 24 pieces and roll each into a thin strip about 10 inches long. Shape into pretzels and place on prepared baking sheets. Cover pretzels loosely with towels and let them rest in a warm place until puffy, about 15 minutes. Lightly brush egg-milk glaze over the pretzels and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly colored.